Collection of jewelry in the Hermitage. The collection of jewelry in the Hermitage is very significant and in some of its sections is not inferior to the world’s largest collections of this kind. The main part of the collection is kept in the Special, or, as it is also called, the Golden Storeroom of the Hermitage. It absorbed the exhibits that were in the 19th century in the Treasure Gallery, the Diamond Rooms of the Winter Palace, as well as things that came after 1918 from nationalized collections. In addition, many items are kept in other funds and at the expositions of the museum.
The small but highly valuable collection of Renaissance works is of considerable interest. Among the rings, pendants and other products of this time, a unique emerald pendant in the form of a caravel made in Spain from the last quarter of the 16th century stands out. A number of coral products date back to the 17th century, originating from Trapani in Sicily. From copper, silver and bright picturesque corals, Italian masters created original sculptural compositions, bowls, icons.
The main part of the Hermitage collection is made up of items from the 18th century. These are a wide variety of snuff boxes, musk boxes, toilets, non-alcohol bottles, watches, fans, perfume bottles, rings and other exquisite trifles.
The art of French jewelers is distinguished by virtuosity of technique, excellent mastery of various materials. In addition to gold and stone, they worked with turtle, mother of pearl, varnish. They also had a subtle knowledge of various types of enamel, the art of creating which later reached a high flowering in the work of the Geneva masters.
The works of English jewelers are characterized by excellent chasing – plastic, graceful in design, with soft transitions of plans. A vivid example of this technique is a hand mirror (c. 1760), presented by the Turkish sultan Osman III to Elizaveta Petrovna. It should be noted also the quality of processing of precious stones on English products, which confirms the glory of London diamond-makers of that time.
The works of German jewelers were famous for their high quality processing of colored stones. Of particular interest are the snuffboxes of Saxon craftsmen, a distinctive feature of which is the use of stone mosaics.
It should be noted that the collection of 19th century jewelry continues to grow in our time. These are jewelry sets, various kinds of toilet boxes, cigarette cases, watches in artistically designed cases. An interesting group of works in the Art Nouveau style, including several works by the famous Rene Lalique.
Collection of Oriental jewelry art in the Hermitage
Collection of jewelry art of the East has about 3000 exhibits belonging to a large time period – from the 1st millennium BC. to the XX century – and includes works of masters from India, Iran, Turkey, Central Asia, Byzantium. Crimea, the Volga region, China, Mongolia, Indonesia, South America. The most complete, from ancient times to the end of the XIX century, is represented by the art of Iran.
The most valuable items in this collection are works from the 5th-2nd centuries. BC. – the era of the Achaemenid dynasty and the spread of Hellenistic traditions in the East after the conquests of Alexander the Great: cast gold miniature figurines of real and fantastic animals; massive neck ornaments – grivnas – made of a hollow gold tube, decorated with inlaid figures of animals; silver discs-falars and vessels of various shapes, manufacturing techniques and decoration techniques. Unique gold stands for ten cups of English porcelain dating back to the early 19th century with portraits of the Iranian Shah Fath Ali and his heir Abbas Mirza, which were part of the ceremonial “Sun Service”. The coasters and a sumptuous gold tray with enamels were made by Iranian craftsmen.
Collection of Indian Jewelry Art XVII
The collection of Indian jewelry art of the 17th century is almost the only one in the world. It includes precious vessels and utensils, anklets, specifically oriental headwear adornments – egrets, rings, etc. Of particular interest are twenty items that were part of the diplomatic gift of Shah Nadir to the Russian state (1741). Among them are golden aromatic vessels, enamel boxes, trays and a cup with a lid, covered with emeralds, rubies, diamonds and pearls, a miniature table-stand. A remarkably magnificent archery ring – gold, with a large diamond, emeralds and rubies, with an engraved inscription inside, belonging to Shah Jahan. A significant part of the collection of oriental jewelry is made up of Chinese items of the 17th-18th centuries.
Gold and silver vessels and incense burners; openwork large and small boxes, bottles and trays are made using filigree technique of various weaving. Also of interest are small plastic and gold filigree women’s jewelry – hairpins, hairpins, brooches, often decorated with polished polished stones, most often rubies and spinels. A worthy place in the world-famous collection of weapons of the Hermitage is occupied by a collection of ceremonial oriental weapons, the beginning of which was laid by the future Emperor Nicholas I. It includes Indian, Persian, Turkish edged weapons – showered with precious stones, in gold and silver sheaths, exquisite sabers and daggers, often made of the famous damask steel. 200 pieces make up a small but vibrant collection of South American toreutics.
Basically, these are cult monuments, small plastic, objects of the funeral ritual made by Colombian craftsmen. The collection is adorned with the famous “Mexican bell” – a gold pendant in the shape of an Eagle Warrior.
The collection of antique jewelry and toreutics of the Hermitage is one of the best in the world.
It is based on the monuments discovered during archaeological excavations in the Northern Black Sea region, primarily on the territory of the Bosporus Kingdom, located on the shores of the Kerch Strait (in ancient times, the Cimmerian Bosporus). Decorations from the burial mounds and necropolises of the Bosporan aristocracy allow tracing the development of jewelry art from the reproduction of samples brought from Greece and the imitation of the Scythian style to the creation of original works of art that combine the Greek and Scythian artistic traditions.
The collection includes such remarkable monuments as the famous electric vessel found in the Kul-Oba mound with a chased multi-figured composition on a Scythian theme, a golden grivna, the ends of which are completed by figures of Scythian horsemen, and the masterpiece of the collection – temple pendants with the image of the head of Athena the Virgin (4th century BC). BC) is a rare, one of a kind and the earliest, apparently, reproduction of the head of a statue by Phidias, the greatest Greek sculptor of the 5th century. BC.
The most valuable part of the collection is made up of jewelry brought directly from Greece. The earliest in this section are magnificent earrings with embossed lion heads (6th century BC), originating from the necropolis of the ancient city of Olbia. Outstanding monuments are the golden phiala – a libation bowl on the sacred altar, the outer surface of which is entirely decorated with a relief pattern, from the Kul-Oba burial mound (IV century BC). A set from the necropolis of the city of Feodosia (IV century BC) – a necklace and earrings made with the use of microtechnology, for which Athenian jewelers were especially famous.
The pectoral is interesting in form and exceptional in its craftsmanship – a kind of pectoral decoration from the Bolshaya Bliznitsa burial mound (IV century BC). A remarkable series of signet rings with engraved images on oval shields, the reverse side of which is often decorated with sculptural figures of a lying lion or a scarab beetle, from the same mound.
The idea of the polychrome style characteristic of the Hellenistic era (III-I centuries BC), characterized by bright colorful combinations, wide use of precious and semi-precious stones, enamels, colored glass, is given by a luxurious gold diadem with a “Hercules knot” decorated with Syrian with pomegranates and a miniature figurine of an eagle carrying Eros in its claws from the Artyukhov barrow (III-II centuries BC). The vessels, refined in shape and various in purpose, constitute the richest collection of silver items of this period. Of the works of masters of the Roman period, a portrait golden mask from the burial of Riskuporis III (III century AD) is especially interesting in historical terms.
This subsection includes not only coins of all European countries, with the exception of Russia, but also coins of America and Australia.
The Western European collection is the most numerous. It includes over 360,000 storage units (coins, treasures, doublets) and also contains a small amount of paper banknotes.
A relatively modest part of the collection consists of coins of the Merovingian and Carolingian. However, there are 150 gold Merovingian coins, including such rare ones as two tremisses with the name of Saint Eligius (Elua). Carolingian gold coinage, which was generally scarce, is represented by several copies, among which the rarest is the gold solidus, minted in Dorestad.
The Hermitage keeps both coins known today, minted by the Count of Holland Florence (1049-1061).
The period from the end of the XII to the XV century is not as richly represented in the collection as in the X-XII century. But among the coins of this time there are quite rare ones. Among them is the denarius of Ferry of Lorraine (1251-1303), minted probably in 1298. The museum has an excellent collection of early gold florins and ducats, especially Italian. Hungarian and Rhine-Rhine Germany.
Among the Germanic coins of the late group, interesting are the Magdeburg groschen of 1668, the gold guilder of 1552 and four ducats of 1670 minted in Brandenburg, the thaler in gold in honor of the Prussian minister Goim. The Padernborn ducat of 1653, the thaler of the Abbey of Thorn (Westphalia) in 1563, the silver groschen Dietrich Dinslaken. Rare examples are the 1528 thaler minted in Lippe by Simon V (1511-1536), and the 1556 Corvey thaler of Reinhard II (1555-1585). Coins of Bamberg, Würzburg, Eichstätt and Nuremberg stand out for their completeness. The selection of gold coins of the latter is remarkable – ducats and their fractions in the form of a round coin and klippa. Among the gold coins of Regensburg. There are many rare denominations of ten and three ducats.
Gold coins are especially well represented in the coin collection of the Netherlands, England and France. Collection of English coins is accompanied by a collection of tokens. Austrian collection (including the coins of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia) is exceptionally rich in thaler coins. Including rare ones in two and four thalers. And also in gold, among which there are many large denominations of ten and four ducats.
The collections of Italian coins of the late 15th-18th centuries and the collection of Polish coins of the 10th-18th centuries are significant. The Polish collection contains such rare specimens as the denarius Mieszko I. And the denarius of Boleslav I the Brave with a Slavic inscription. In the golden part of the collection, the ducats of Sigismund I are interesting and the heavy donatives of the 17th-19th centuries are well represented, some of which are extremely rare. There are also many rarities in the collections of coins from Hungary. Spain, Portugal, Scandinavian countries.
Chased three-piece gold etui suspended
from chatelaine, with carved mother-of-pearl insets
and soldered-on gold chasings representing Venus,
two doves, and Cupid’s attributes
Length 21.5 cm
France. Mid-18th century
The Hermitage, Leningrad
Carved rock-crystal bowl,
with three handles and mount
fashioned as dragons and serpents,
painted in enamel colours and pave-set with garnets
Height 11 crn
Italy. 16th century
The Hermitage, Leningrad
Rock crystal was highly valued in the Renaissance. Prague, Munich, and especially Milan were among the most important centres of lock-crystal cutting.